San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Pope knocks Costa Rica in vitro fertilization bill

Under pressure of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla is pursuing a law that will lift the long-time ban on in vitro fertilization.

She’s placed the bill on a fast track in the Legislative Assembly in the hope of winning congressional approval in December.

On Friday, in a meeting with Costa Rica’s Ambassador to the Vatican, Fernando Sánchez, Pope Benedict XVI advised the Central American country against legalizing the reproductive technique.

“It is advisable that Costa Rica not violate the rights of an unborn child with laws that legitimize in vitro fertilization and abortion,” Pope Benedict said. “I am reminded that it was in your country where the San José Pact was signed that expressly recognizes the value of human life from conception.”

Costa Rica remains one of the only countries in the world to prohibit in vitro fertilization. In August, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) asked Costa Rica to revise laws to be in step with international treaties like the American Convention on Human Rights, the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Cairo Programme of Action.

The country’s ban on IVF “violates the human rights of Costa Rican citizens” and “opposes international guarantees protecting the right to health, intimacy and reproductive autonomy, the right to physical integrity, the right to form a family and the right to benefit from scientific progress,” according to an amicus curiae brief filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights,  a U.S.-based lobbying group. “The state is obligated to respect human rights commitments assumed by having ratified international treaties and laws” (TT, Oct. 7).

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